Masbate journalist shot dead by Army troopers

Army troopers gunned down an alleged member of the new people’s army in Milagros town, Masbate who turned out to be a working journalist.

Police identified the victim as Ronnie Villamor, 50, resident of Celestina Subdivision, Barangay Nursery, Masbate City and a reporter of Dos Cantos, a local newspaper in Masbate.

According to Major Aldrin Rosales, chief of Milagros Municipal Police Station, Villamor was shot dead during a military operation at Barangay Matanglad, around 1:00 PM on Saturday, Nov. 14.

In his report, Rosales said a platoon of scout rangers led by a certain Lt. Maydim Jomadil went to the area to check on the information about the reported presence of alleged five armed men.

Upon seeing the approaching troopers, the five individuals allegedly scampered in different directions but one of them took off on a motorcycle, the report added.

Military troopers blocked his escape route as he pulled out a handgun, which prompted the soldiers to shoot him, Rosales said.

But local journalists in Masbate disputed the police report saying Villamor was in the area to cover the conduct of a survey on a property that is subject of a dispute. They added that the four other individuals with the victim were surveyors from Legazpi City who were hired by the landowner.

Diosdado Briones, publisher of Dos Cantos, said that he suspects that a party in the land dispute might have used the military to harass the victim’s group.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Masbate chapter, condemned the attack saying the broad daylight light killing showed that the perpetrators had no regard for the rule of law.

NUJP demanded immediate investigation of the incident and for the killers to be brought before the bar of justice.